Thoughts on Ki Tisa and Our Current Realities

It would be frivolous to use my typical blog format given what we’re all thinking about.

Instead, a brief word about a key moment from our Torah portion, Ki Tisa:

“[The Sabbath] shall be a sign for all time between Me and the people of Israel. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He ceased from work and was refreshed.” – Exodus 31:17

The last word in this verse in Hebrew is “vayinafash”, translated here as “and was refreshed.” The Torah commentator Sforno links this word with a similar word, “nefesh”, which can be translated as “spirit.”

“This is why the seventh day is one devoted to the spirit, resulting in God giving Jews an additional soul for use on that day. This additional soul assists us in concentrating on the spiritual dimension of the day. When man was created, God made him in His image, i.e. first and foremost concerned with spiritual concerns. The extra soul granted us on the Sabbath is to help us live up to that vision God had of man when He created him.”

At a time when, understandably, we are deeply concerned about our bodily health, we have begun efforts to distance ourselves from other people physically. But we should not use that as an excuse to distance ourselves from one another emotionally. Rather, we must continue to connect our souls with those of others. Taking a cue from Sforno, it behooves us to act as if we have an extra soul — an extra motivation to ensure that our ties to one another are stronger than ever.

I wish everyone safety, tranquility, and health this Shabbat and beyond.

Shabbat Shalom!